Karen Bubb, the city of Boise’s new cultural planner, spent the better part of the past two years assessing where our city is right now in terms of community development when it comes to arts and culture, and then looking five and 10 years down the road.
She and her team spent months interviewing people and holding public discussions and community forums to find out how people think and feel about the culture we’re collectively creating in the City of Trees.
“It’s not just traditional arts,” Bubb says. “Our idea of culture here is intertwined with our connection to the outdoors. We’ve always known that, but this really makes it clear. Culture in Boise encompasses what people do for leisure: walking and riding on the Greenbelt, hiking in the Boise Foothills.”
Now it’s time to get busy and implement the findings, which is more about starting an ongoing civic conversation, Bubb says.
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“The plan is a moment in time,” she says. “What the plan does is capture where we are now and what we want to do to move forward.”
Want to weigh in? You can be part of the process by going to one of two meetings this month.
▪ The first is 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 3, at Boise City Hall, 150 N. Capitol Blvd., in City Council Chambers.
▪ The second is at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 31, at the Boise Public Library, 715 S. Capitol Blvd. in the Hayes Auditorium.
It’s a chance to find out what the city already has in the works and to share your ideas, Bubb says. Your input will help shape how several city entities focus their time and resources.
With more than 1,000 people weighing in in 2014, Bubb and company took the data and created five areas of focus:
▪ Develop cultural policy.
▪ Enhance and preserve neighborhood places.
▪ Maintain and develop cultural assets.
▪ Foster organizations and partnerships.
▪ Expand cultural resources for individuals.
The fact that Boise has a cultural planner is considered pretty cutting edge. So far as anyone can find, Bubb is the only cultural planner in the region, if not the United States.
Terri Schorzman, executive director of the Boise Department of Arts and History, saw a job description for a cultural planner from Vancouver, B.C., in Canada and decided to create a position for Boise so that the cultural plan didn’t just sit dormant on a shelf.
Bubb served as public art manager for more than 10 years. During that time, she earned a master’s in public administration, policy and planning at Boise State University. (Karl LeClair is now Boise’s public art manager for the Department of Arts and History.)
Bubb hopes this will be the start of an ongoing conversation with local community groups, artists, neighborhood associations, businesses and anyone who is interested in being part of Boise’s cultural future, she says.